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ART. VI.-CRIMES OF 1848, 1849 AND 1850.
Official Tables of Criminal Offenders for the Years 1848, 1849 and 1850.
Printed by Authority. Census of Great Britain for 1851. Printed by Authority. Education, National, Voluntary and Free. By Joseph Fletcher, Esq., H. M.
Inspector of Schools. London: Ridgway, 1851.
30,349 27,816 26,813 Decrease, per cent.
3.6 This is gratifying, and concurs with that increase of prosperity which is well attested by financial and fiscal statistics of all kinds, in each branch of this busy, commercial empire. There has also been a quinquennial decrease of crime, for in the five years ending 1845 there were 139,505 crimes, but in the five years ending 1850, only 138,918, a decrease of no numerical importance, except that during the five years population increased by 61 per cent., and thus criminality decreased by about 7 per cent.
That able and accurate statist, Mr. Redgrave, thus analyzes, in his Preface, the criminal tables of 1850:
The decrease of the commitments in 1850, as referred to locality, has been very general. It extended to twenty-eight of the forty English counties, and includes all the Midland, Southern and Western counties, without exception. The increase has fallen in the Northern counties--in Durham and Northumberland, in the great manufacturing district, Yorkshire alone excepted, running through Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire. In these counties the chief increase was shown, the decrease having extended to all the most agricultural counties, Essex and Norfolk forming the only exceptions. In Wales there was an increase, the commitments in the Principality having for several years shown a tendency to increase.
On a comparison of the offences in which the decrease of the last year is most apparent, it will be seen that they are chiefly those which are prevalent in the rural districts, as burglary and housebreaking, sheep stealing, stealing fixtures and growing trees and plants, arson, maliciously maiming cattle, and offences against the game laws.
In the 1st Class—The Offences against the Person—there was a decrease of 38 per cent. last year on the commitments for murder, but when this offence is united with the attempts to murder and maim, the numbers are shown to remain stationary. In
rape and assaults to ravish, there was an increase. On the whole class the numbers continue nearly the same, both on a comparison of the two last years, and the two last periods of five years.
In the 2nd Class — The Violent Offences against Propertythere is a decrease of burglary, housebreaking, and the other crimes against the dwelling, and an increase of the robberies from the person. The class showing a decrease of nearly 3 per cent. on the two last years, and of 3.1 per cent. on the two last five years.
In the 3rd Class— The Simple Offences against Propertythe chief decrease has fallen upon larceny, and is for that offence 6.4 per cent. There is also a decrease in horse and sheep stealing, stealing fixtures, &c. The chief increase arises in larcenies from the person, larcenies by servants, and embezzlement. The decrease on this class last year was 3.6 per cent., but an increase of 2:3 per cent. appears on a comparison of the two last five years.
The 4th Class- The Malicious Offences against Propertyshows a considerable decrease, both in arson and maliciously maiming cattle, and a total decrease on the class last year
of 19 per cent. On a comparison of the two last five years, however, an increase arises of 4
cent. In the 5th Class-Forgery and Offences against the Currency -the commitments remain nearly the same in the last year, but there is an increase of 8 per cent. on extending the comparison to the totals of the two last five years. The art itself has made great progress. We believe this to be the cause.
In the 6th Class-There is a decrease of nearly 15 per cent., arising chiefly on the offences against the game laws, and the indictments for keeping disorderly houses. In the two last five years the decrease has been 36 per cent., and is owing to the absence (with the exception of the year 1848) of seditious offences, and the great decrease of riots and breaches of the peace, by which such offences are attended.
There were only six persons executed last year, and all of them for atrocious murders. We can bear witness to some very felonious acquittals; some in which the evidence was so free from flaw or doubt, that the mob nearly performed the duty which the juries failed in. There is a curious table of executions during
the last half century, given by Mr. Redgrave, which results thus:
1801 to 1810
1811 to 1820
1821 to 1830
1831 to 1840
1841 to 1850
Executions 802 897
107 A very important feature in these tables, viz. the age of criminal offenders, is no longer given,- we believe owing to some reprehensible desire to effect a paltry economy in the Home Office staff of clerks. If this be so, it is quite unpardonable; for a very essential means of testing the progress of crime is now lost; and whether juvenile offenders are on the increase or not we are no longer enabled to know. The cause of public morals, and the science of mending them, should not be thus frustrated.
The great question respecting the causes of crime is best developed and aided by an analysis of its locality, and its relation to the various conditions of society which are supposed to affect its amount and intensity. Those most frequently advanced are education, class of industry, and density of population. The two former were very fully discussed, and their relation to crime elaborately pointed out, in the articles on the subject contained in this MAGAZINE in 1848.1 The facts and deductions then produced have become standard authorities. They related, however, to the Criminal Statistics ending with 1847, and consequently the last three years afford fresh data. It may suffice to say generally that the conclusions thus established in 1848 are in substance borne out and equally applicable to the subsequent period. The great culminations of crime exist still in the Metropolitan district; and taking the same counties as representatives of each class of industry, they again stand thus : Above the average, 1. Metropolitan, Below the average, 4. Agricultural, 2. Iron districts,
5. Silk. 3. Cotton districts;
6. Mining To assist rather than to express further conclusions, we have collated the following table of the population of 185), and its relative density, the crimes classified into grave and minor of the last three years, and the degree of instruction, as far as marriage register marks show it, in each county of England, and
Since amplified and republished, with coloured diagrams, under the title of Tactics for the Times, published by Ollivier, Pall Mall.
? The “grave" offences consist of offences against the person, and offences against property committed with violence.
The as minor" offences are mainly offences against property without violence; and also all malicious offences against property, forgery, and all other fences tried at assizes and sessions.
in North and South Wales. This table will at least serve to show the distribution of crime.
As regards education, or even the possession of its rudiments, we beg to disclaim placing the slightest reliance on the marriage mark index. It is no index at all; and not only valueless as such, but, we fear, positively fallacious and misleading. We have only given it because we know that some eminent statistical inquirers, Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Farr among the number, think otherwise; and though they do not, we believe, regard it as a perfect test, yet think it affords a fair and reliable approximation to it. Our grounds for thinking otherwise are these:
It is notorious to all persons practically acquainted with the working of the registration, that numbers of persons when married, both males and females, will not, and do not, sign their names, though they can do so.
In the next place, the total number of persons married in any year, ex. gr. 1848, being 276,460 in England and Wales, forms but l} per cent. of the population; and how is it possible that the instruction possessed by such a minute fraction can afford any reasonable ground for deducing from it the education of the remaining 984 per cent. ? But it affords scarcely, any test of the education of the 11 themselves; for is it not obvious, that the mere faculty of writing a name may, and often does, co-exist with extreme ignorance in nearly every element of education, properly so called ? nevertheless, if it be worth anything, it must be as an indication of the possession of such elements of education. Is it advanced, that, though worth little in itself, it is fortified by other concurring tests, such as the predominance or the reverse of prosperity, pauperism, &c.? The short answer is, that no such concurrence exists as can afford any substantial or availing support to the marriage mark test. Nor can mere amount of property or independent means be safely taken to indicate the education of a district, or, therefore, to support any other indication of it. If this is not enough, a glance at the following table will, we trust, suffice to dispel any kind of reliance on a test which places the education of Devonshire far above the average, and superior to Middlesex, Surrey and Kent; whilst it ranks Herefordshire, the most criminal and perhaps the most Bæotian in the kingdom, as little below the average, and superior to Yorkshire, Norfolk, Herts, Essex and Cambridgeshire! !
See the speech of the Dean of Hereford (Mr. Dawes, late of Somborne) at the Diocesan Meeting at Hereford, on October 1st, 1851, wherein he stated it to be the worst educated county.